Do You See?
>Did you read my poetic takes on Wilhelm Müller and Franz Schubert’s grand collection known as Winterreise (Winter Journey) which is a cycle of 24 poems in all?
Well then, rush off to Danse Macabre literary journal to read about this wonderful collaboration between several poets to write along the themes in those 24 pieces.
The themes on which I wrote 3 poems were (harking back to my dear man-river Brahmaputra in Assam; my first snowy winter in the US, and an interesting look at ravens/crows that behave absolutely the same way anywhere in the world… !):
— Auf dem Flusse (On the Stream)
The river, usually busy and bubbling, is locked in frozen darkness and lies drearily spread out under the ice. He will write her name, and the date of their first meeting, in the ice with a sharp stone. The river is a likeness of his heart: it beats and swells under the hard frozen surface.
The River on a Pyre
Eyeing the Brahmaputra flowing with its whale-body
and the faraway banks smoking
she thought death stood quiet
quietly performing the ritual
of mouth-fire for her own,
the bodies that once talked
laughed and spread guile.
Eyeing the strong-arm river’s sweep of red ripples
carrying unsuspecting dolphins
and last night’s smoky limbs
from the pyres she watched
across her verandah over the
winter’s damp dribble.
She searched out the smell –
ashes in the wind stuck like the stunned river’s pride
the look of a living face smoke-screened in the twilight.
— Einsamkeit (Loneliness/Solitude)
He wanders along the busy road ungreeted. Why is the sky so calm and the world so bright? Even in the tempest he was not so lonely as this.
First a feather floats in
does a swirling dance around the lawn
then it drops, softly in my foreign home
one by one
they come to invade
the throbbing serenity
around the little playground, swings and all
knowing kids are asleep, dreaming of riding over white slopes
And they tiptoe, little elves
remind me of the lanky cotton thrashing man who
traversed our hometown streets in summer’s white heat
when called, he set up
a white storm with
cotton for quilts
We loved the magician’s ruse
soft downy puffs flew out
helter-skelter from his old brown gunny bag
with musical whippings he caught hold of each –
one by one
then they swirled and swept
his veined swarthy hands twanged on
The rhythm sang an ode to the floral dance
white and careless, while they dropped
kittens on the loose, all over
the roof, a fidgety fleet
now outside my
lonely doorstep it is all fluffy, full and laden
Wait, the next eager batch rushes in
around the porch, driveway, my little garden seat
they take over the yard
beckon me in this cool shale-
where the only music is their descent
they drop float fly
one by one.
— Die Krähe (The Crow)
A crow has followed him all along the way from the town. Is it waiting for him to die, so that it can eat him? It won’t be long, let it keep him company to the end.
Ravens talking in earnest is wondrous
The way they don’t want to share food
And are hyperbolic about their flights
Across fallow farmlands, brown fields
Of spent ammonia, and gassy old bogs.
They have compass heads, curt motions
When they talk, ignoring the mauve sky
Of the thunder-bound clouds over a lawn.
Ravens like a drink or two with a peck
Here and there while the light dances
On their twisty heads, darkening against
A screen of sunset silk with no outlets
For ravens to fly out. So they just spar over
How many worms each of them clinched
Or how long then can keep me company
The ravens talk through my unvoiced gaze.
A familiar sight, but who’ll question them
About melting as silhouettes on our eves –
Not a good thing confronting those beaks.
Ravens herald guests. So for my granny’s sake
I have to wait and watch, although all I see
Them dropping from their mouth’s corners
Is rotten stuff in their callous cawing prose.
Read my friend Priti Aisola’s X-mas essay in Danse Macabre here.
And NEWS! I am to be Editor (India) at Danse Macabre, and work to promote the journal’s broad international appeal.